In a previous post I spoke about a visit to Pallant House Gallery (www.pallanthouse.org.uk) where I saw the recent Peter Blake exhibition. I visit Pallant House several times a year (I am a ‘Friend’ so get in for free) and always find something to marvel at, and my visit today did not disappoint.
The current featured exhibitions are the National Outside IN competition for art created by marginalised artists. To find out more about Outside IN take a look at http://www.outsidein.org.uk. This competition has come a very long way since its first showing in 2007, and incidentally I took part in this show with a large-scale lino cut which was Commended. (Image of my entry can be seen below)
‘Tentative Speculation’, linocut with chine colle (1.2m X 1.5m)
The exhibition is now a Triennial and now features artists from throughout the UK and the standard and variety of work is as varied as it is amazing.
Alongside the Outside IN exhibition is a smaller focus show of work by the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet. Dubuffets idealistic approach to aesthetics embraced so-called “low art” and eschewed traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believed to be a more authentic and humanistic approach to image-making. Consequently his work is full of interesting mark-making and patterning. Dubuffet gave his work a label – Art Brut (raw or rough art) and intended it to describe art which was created outside the boundaries of the established Art Scene such as insane asylum inmates and children. While Dubuffet’s term is quite specific, the current English term “outsider art” is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds. Until now I had not been a particular fan of Dubuffet, but looking at the work on show today has made me reconsider this artist.
Downstairs the De Longhi Print Room at Pallant House is currently showing work by Pat Douthwaite. Now I had never heard of her until today and I can honestly say that I was knocked for six by her honest and uncompromising imagery. It is simply fantastic!
I am not certain if I am actually allowed to reproduce the above image – I cut and pasted it from the Pallant House Gallery webpage about the exhibition, but I felt that it was not possible to talk about Douthwaite without some imagery to illustrate what I was talking about. There is an immediacy, honesty and vibrancy to this work, it is a ‘warts and all, no holds barred’ approach to image making. A self-taught artist, Douthwaite produced assemblages, collages, paintings, drawings and prints that were both uncompromising and unique. Her work was once described by the critic Cordelia Oliver as being “female but not feminine”, I would agree with this. Although naive in execution Douthwaite’s work is uncompromising, dark and sinister. There is still time to see Douthwaite’s work for yourself as the exhibition runs until 3rd February.